More than two weeks after Election Day, Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein is leading a fundraising effort to demand a vote recount in several key battleground states that Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton lost and, as of Friday morning, Stein has raised nearly $5 million.
Stein has characterized her campaign's role in the recount as "election integrity advocates, without a personal conflict of interest in the outcome" following reports that hackers manipulated electronic voting systems in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania — three states that Clinton was expected to win handily but, ultimately, lost by small margins.
"After a divisive and painful presidential race, reported hacks into voter and party databases and individual email accounts are causing many American to wonder if our election results are reliable," Stein said in a press release Wednesday. "These concerns need to be investigated before the 2016 presidential election is certified. We deserve elections we can trust."
The announcement came on Tuesday, the same day that New York Magazine published a report citing "a group of prominent computer scientists and election lawyers," who reportedly urged the Clinton campaign to pursue a recount on the basis of irregularities in Wisconsin counties where electronic voting systems were used:
"The academics presented findings showing that in Wisconsin, Clinton received 7 percent fewer votes in counties that relied on electronic-voting machines compared with counties that used optical scanners and paper ballots. Based on this statistical analysis, Clinton may have been denied as many as 30,000 votes; she lost Wisconsin by 27,000."
Is this recount likely to affect the election outcome?
Allegations of widespread hacking of electronic voting systems were tempered by computer science experts in response to a report by New York Magazine, according to Vox. On Wednesday, J. Alex Halderman, a computer science professor at the University of Michigan who was one of the academics involved in a recount conversation with the Clinton campaign, voiced skepticism in a blog post about the idea that cyber criminals were behind the ballot irregularities his team identified.
"Were this year’s deviations from pre-election polls the results of a cyberattack? Probably not," Halderman wrote on Medium. "I believe the most likely explanation is that the polls were systematically wrong, rather than that the election was hacked. But I don’t believe that either one of these seemingly unlikely explanations is overwhelmingly more likely than the other."
Still, he wrote that a recount "even if it finds nothing amiss — will help allay doubt and give voters justified confidence that the results are accurate" and "set a precedent for routinely examining paper ballots, which will provide an important deterrent against cyberattacks on future elections."
A recount would involve hand-counting of all ballots, including those cast on electronic voting systems, in those three states — an expensive undertaking.
Stein initially said on her campaign website that it would cost "about $2.5 millions dollars collectively for all three states," but after raising about $5 million, she said that the campaign has so far only covered the costs for a recount in Wisconsin (where the deadline to request a recount is Friday) and Pennsylvania (where the deadline is set for Monday). She has increased the fundraising goal to $7 million, with the additional money going toward a recount in Michigan.
However, some questions remain as to how the money that she's raised will be used, according to Mediaite's Law Newz. A footnote on Stein's fundraising website states that the campaign "cannot guarantee a recount will happen in any of these states we are targeting." The footnote also appears to have been edited, according to Law Newz, which claimed that it initially said the money would go toward "election integrity efforts" if the campaign came up short of the fundraising goal — and now it says that any "surplus" would go toward those efforts.
Stein has denied that the recount campaign is meant to benefit Clinton, NBC News reported. Rather, she said in an interview with PBS NewsHour Thursday that "[t]his is being done because Americans, you know, come out of this election not happy campers."
ATTN: has reached out to the Stein campaign for further clarification about the motivation behind this effort and will update when we hear back.